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Canada: Airlines must ensure pilots sober in cockpit

Ottawa, Canada | AFP | 

Canada on Friday called on domestic airlines to ensure that pilots show up for work sober, following recent arrests for drunkenness in cockpits.

“As a commercial air carrier authorized to carry passengers in Canada, you have an obligation to ensure that flight crew members are fit to fly when requiring them to carry out such responsibilities,” Transport Minister Marc Garneau said in a letter to carriers.

The minister said he was “very concerned” about an early morning incident in Calgary on December 31 when a Sunwing pilot was found passed out drunk in his cockpit before takeoff, with a hundred passengers onboard headed to Mexico.

The government reminded that it is a criminal offense for a flight crew to work withing eight hours of consuming alcohol or while under the influence.

Ottawa also noted that all Canadian airlines must follow civil aviation regulations and “ensure that their employees follow them.”

According to a transport ministry statement, Canada’s eight major airlines — which carry 90 percent of passengers in this country — have confirmed that they “have proper safety protocols in place to deal with alcohol and drug testing.”

The Sunwing pilot in question was arrested. At the time he was found to have three times the legal limit of alcohol in his blood to drive a car, or 0.08 percent.

Last July, two Air Transat pilots were arrested for drunkenness at the Glasgow airport in Scotland, shortly before the departure of their aircraft with 250 passengers on board.


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